Letters — Two Percent Land Fund Survives

Aloha —
A BIG mahalo to everyone who wrote emails and showed up to testify.

Council Chair Dominic Yagong withdrew Bill 63, which was to reduce the land fund to a minimum of 1% of property taxes.  THank you Chairman Yagong for listening to what the people wanted!

The council voted to over ride the Mayor’s budget, but couldn’t get the necessary 6 votes.  Five council members voted for the over ride: Ford, Yagong, Hoffmann, Pilago and Smart.    Those voting against the over ride were Blas, Onishi, Yoshimoto, Ikeda.  The Mayor’s budget has the Land fund deposits as 2% of our property taxes.

So, 2% of our property taxes or roughly $4.146 million will be placed in the land fund for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2011.
This means that the county could get an additional $4 million in matching funds to acquire properties.

To read about property purchases for the land fund click here:  http://www.dhecht.com/?page_id=196

STAY TUNED FOR THE 2% LAND FUND CHARTER AMENDMENT:  Council member Brenda Ford will be submitting a 2% charter amendment and we will need your support to get 6 votes from the council during 3 readings and the committee to get this on the ballot to let the voters decide in November of 2012.
A charter amendment can only be changed by a vote of the people.
WHY is this important?
1. A dependable source of funds to obtain matching funds
2.  We won’t have to sit through budget hearings each year.
3.  In an economic downturn the county can buy properties at a reduced price

STAY TUNED!  We WILL need your help for this final effort.
Debbie Hecht  Campaign Coordinator, Save OUr Lands Citizen’s Committee
Kailua Kona, HI
(808) 989-3222

***Commentary*** As Predicted, No Veto Override

By now you have heard that Fred Blas and the Hilo oriented Council minority voted against the proposed veto override today. With the vote being 5-4, the override effort failed. A two-thirds majority, or six votes, was needed.  With the measuring failing, the Mayor’s budget takes affect tomorrow. Did I not call that?!

Some background for those not easily following the story: The Council majority — that, for the last six months has been comprised of Council Chair Dominic Yagong, Pete Hoffmann, Angel Pilago, Brenda Ford, Brittany Smart and Fred Blas — made a number of amendments to Bill 29, the operating budget for 2011-2012. Mayor Billy Kenoi vetoed Bill 29, citing an opinion from Corporation Counsel expressing concern over legal problems with some of the amendments.  The Council majority, horrified by what they perceived as Corporation Counsel throwing them under a bus, put forth a resolution seeking independent legal counsel to counter Corporation Counsel’s legal opinion of their amendments.  But when the resolution seeking independent legal counsel came before council members, Fred, who had been siding with the majority on nearly everything since he was elected to represent Puna on the Council, voted with the minority.  When that happened, I accurately predicted what we saw today:  Fred not voting for the veto override and, once again, siding with the minority.
I have to tell you what my political sources have told me about today’s meeting: Fred did not say one word other than casting his “no” vote. As soon as the meeting adjourned, Fred high-tailed it out of Council Chambers, without a word to anyone. Nancy Cook Lauer, of West Hawaii Today, tried to corral him. This is what happened: Gwen Kupahu, Fred’s Council aide (and former Councilwoman Emily Naeole’s before that) and Barbara Lively, Fred’s legislative aide (and former Councilman Bob Jacobson’s before that) rushed up and whisked him away before he could make a comment to Nancy. “Your meeting, your meeting!” they were heard saying. What meeting?
Frankly, Fred owed his constituency and explanation for his stance. And the fact that he didn’t say anything on the Council floor and didn’t say anything to a newspaper reporter seeking his comment is more offensive than the vote he cast.
The fact is, I am really trying to be objective about this political theater we have even observing with the budget. I can’t honestly say if the mayor is right or the five council members who insist he is wrong are right.
But for our Puna councilman to not be explaining himself, that’s not right.
Listen, there are people who are describing him as the male version of Aunite Em. They jokingly refer to Fred’s wife Betty as the 10th council member, because she is always there. If she is not there, then it is Barbara Lively present, whispering in his ear. I know that role, having been there and done that with Emily. I sure hope that Fred will learn to articulate himself and publicly explain his reasoning for coming down on one side or the other. I genuinely like him, so it is awkward to be roasting him. Fred, please, push the button on the microphone and articulate your positions. Do not, whatever you do, try to shield yourself from the press. It will backfire on you. Look what happened to Guy Enriques when he decided to take a stand against speaking to the press. Believe me, it’s the dumbest thing you can do as a politician. Think of speaking to the press as if you are relaying a message to your constituency.

It won’t be long now before Fred and other council members will be trying to reconnect with their constituency, seeking re-election. My advice to them: Don’t make your constituency feel like you are a stranger, because you won’t be re-elected. To Gwen and Barbara, running up to Fred when a reporter was trying to get a quote from him was not a good move. It looks like you are trying to protect him from himself. Once upon a time we had a council member like that. Spare us the deja vu in Puna.

***Commentary*** Another Letter From Butterfly Girl, Sharing An Old Council Resolution

Image courtesy of Politico. Email your letters to newswoman(at)mac.com or mail them to P.O. Box 557, Kurtistown, HI 96760

Correspondence from a Big Island Chronicle reader who signs with nom de plume of “Butterfly Girl” says, “Editor, Some problems never seem to go away.” The note is dated and Postmarked June 10, 10 days before I wrote a commentary ranting about the low-flying helicopters in Puna.

With the note came with a copy of a resolution dating back to 1993 “concerning stationing of FAA personnel on the Big Island of Hawaii.”

The resolution received unanimous approval from then Council Chair Schutte, along with then council members Arakaki, Bonk-Abramson, Childs, De Lima, Domingo, Hale, Rath and Rosehill.

Let me share with you what the resolution says — bear with me because I’m transcribing this old resolution for you, it’s that interesting:

Whereas, the Council fo the County of Hawii recongizes that lack of enforcement of existing laws and regulations that apply to low flying helicopters and aircraft over residentail and Hawaii Voclanoes National Park is an ongoing problem; and

Whereas, such flights pose a serious, ongoing nuisance to many residents; and

Whereas, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the authority and responsibility to monitor and enforce existing laws governing the aviation industry; and

Whereas, personnel at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, members of the public, and the Council of the County of Hawaii have been frustrated in their attempts to deal with the problems posed by low flying helicopters and aircraft in large part because the FAA has not stationed any personnel on the Big Island of Hawaii; and

Whereas, such flights caused the expenditure of government funds to man rescue operations; and

Whereas, the Council of the County of Hawaii believes that the stationing of FAA personnel on the Big Island of Hawaii is essential to the enforcement of existing laws and regulations governing the tour aircraft industry; and

Whereas, the newly established Noise/Nuisance Abatement Performance Evaluation System (NAPES) offers a potential long term remedy to existing problems.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Council of the County of Hawaii that it urges Hawaii’s congressional delegation to station FAA pesonnel on the Big Islnad of Hawaii.

Be it further resolved that the Clerk of the County of Hawaii transmit copies of this resolution to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Representatives Patsy T. Mink and Representative Neil Abercrombie.

***Ahem *** Well, as we can see 18 years later, this resolution hasn’t changed much with regard to low-flying helicopters and aircraft.  I don’t know about everybody who passed this resolution, but I do know that Keola Childs reads this blog. Maybe he can share with us the background for this resolution and why it took four drafts to come up with the wording that council members did.  What was the story behind the story to this resolution?

One of our current council members could very well use the verbiage of this resolution from October 1993, reintroducing the low flying helicopters matter on the Council floor and highlighting the persistent problem.  Being that resolutions have no weight or bearing under the law, though, it really wouldn’t do more than raise a public conversation.  And we can start one here, for that matter.

Like Butterfly Girl, don’t you think it is a wonder that, for all the time, energy and resources spent, “some problems never seem to go away”?

Missing People — Help Find Kathleen Carvalho

(Media release) — Police are looking for a Puna woman reported missing. Kathleen Lee Carvalho, 60, was last seen tonight, Tuesday evening (June 28) at around 6:50 p.m. in the Hawaiian Paradise Park area. She has allegedly made statements, saying that she will harm herself. Carvalho is 5’7″ tall, weighs approximately 150 pounds, and has short brown hair and a medium build. She was last seen operating a white Ford 4 door station wagon, unknown license plates, as the car is not registered to her. Carvalho may have lacerations to one or both wrists. Anyone with information is asked to call the police non emergency number 935-3311.
(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Environment — Lower Puna Cleanup Planned For Saturday

Photo courtesy of Kevin Dayton.

Calling all environmentalists and altruists:  There will be a community cleanup in lower Puna this Saturday morning.  Organizers are hoping to clean up the mess on Red Road in Kapoho (near Vacationland) and make their way to Pohoiki Road where the tires depicted above are located.  Show up with a truck and/or a water cooler and you will make some new friends, guaranteed.  If you are on Facebook, please check out the “Opala In Paradise” community page and ask to join the group with the same name.  The latter, with 200 members and counting, is quickly becoming a political force with regard to solid waste.  The Facebook Opala In Paradise group is hoping to not only make a difference through community cleanups, but with legislative proposals as well.

Island Events — Celebrate Island Naturals’ Newly Expanded Parking Lot July 10

Image courtesy of Kai Sorte

(Disclosure:  Island Naturals is a sponsor of Big Island Chronicle.) Celebrate Island Naturals-Pahoa’s newly expanded parking lot with a three-band party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, July 10.

Enjoy 15 percent off all purchases, being that it is the second Sunday of the month, see food and natural living demonstrations, win prizes and hear the music of three bands.  Among them are El Leo, The Jarican Express, which features Island Naturals owner Russell Ruderman and long-time employee Charles Bargas; Spirits In The Rock, featuring Pahoa baker Joy McCluer; and Ras & Queen Sparrow, featuring Island Naturals’ information technology staffer Eloy Carrero.

Don’t miss this three hours of fun.

Letters — White Cloud Nursery Sale Is This Week

(Disclosure: White Cloud Nursery is a sponsor of Big Island Chronicle.)

Aloha Friends,

Vireya Rhododendron Sale! White Cloud Nursery will be holding a sale Wednesday, June 29 to Saturday, July 2nd, open 9AM-2PM. We will be offering our 8″ azalea pots (almost 200 plants of a wide array of varieties) at half price — get an 8″ Vireya for the price of a $10 6″ Vireya as long as the supply lasts! Plants are 2-3 years of age, ready to plant and ready to bloom. Subject to availability and prior sale, our 6″ azalea pots will be discounted to $8. Other sizes will be available at their regular prices, including an array of landscape sized plants. See how different varieties grow in our display garden with hundreds of vireyas planted out. Payment via cash or check.

Sale will be held at the nursery in the Ka’ohe Homesteads outside of Pahoa. A catalog listing (PDF format) of the sale plants available in the 8″ size with pictures, a printable map and a Google map link are all on our website (shown below) or call for directions. Planting and cultivation articles are also available on the website.

Hope to see you!

Jane and Pete (Adams)

White Cloud Nursery
15-89 South Rd.
P.O. Box 1387
Pahoa, HI 96778
(808) 345-3345

American Rhododendron Society
Hawaii Chapter
Rhododendron Species Foundation

***Commentary*** Regarding Fred Blas’ Decision To Side With Hilo Council Members Today

Puna Councilman Fred Blas chose not to side with the Council majority on the resolution calling for special legal counsel to review council members' work on the budget. Today's vote is an indication that Blas won't vote for the veto override on June 30. Without six votes, the veto will stand and the mayor's version of the budget will become law.

I need to ask you, truthfully, are you surprised that council members failed to pass the resolution introduced by Council Chairman Dominic Yagong to hire special legal counsel?  If you haven’t already heard, council members voted 5-4 for an independent legal review of their work on the 2011-2012 operating budget after Corporation Counsel suggested at least one of their amendments was illegal.  Council members needed six votes today.  Apparently, Fred Blas, of Puna, was expected to side with the Council majority but cast a vote with the three Hilo oriented council members, J Yoshimoto, Donald Ikeda, and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi.  Blas cast the no vote without any comments beforehand to give any indication what side he would be coming down on.

To those that are shocked by Blas’ vote, I should point you to my coverage of the recent Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station blessing.  Not the photographs Blas took with Mayor Billy Kenoi.  My hit, when watching them interact that day, was that Blas wants to work with Kenoi.  I didn’t eavesdrop on their conversations, but it is possible that the mayor pulled Blas aside and shared his perspective. If you talk with the mayor, like I have, you can see his perspective.  You can see the rationale for the administration deferring payment of the General Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 45, which, in layman’s terms, is the pre-payment for future health care obligations of retired County workers.  You begin to wonder why council members inserted  a “Council adjusted expense account” into Bill 29, the operating budget for next fiscal year, creating a negative appropriation of $5.8 million.

And then you talk with Yagong and you get an entirely different perspective. But that’s another commentary.

Blas attended the Hawaii State Association of Counties conference on the island of Maui the last couple of days — with Ikeda, Onishi, and lead Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida.  I’d be really surprised if one, two, three, or all four of them didn’t discuss this resolution to be taken up today.

Clearly, this vote today is an indication that, come June 30 when council members take up the mayor’s veto of Bill 29, Draft 4, there will not be enough votes for an override.  Read more

***Commentary*** About Pahoa’s Historic Boardwalk

Photos by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

I am in such conflict right now.  As the president of Mainstreet Pahoa Association, I just have to say that I want to be Pollyanna; I really don’t want to show you what I saw today on a behind-the-scenes tour of Pahoa’s historic boardwalk.  But as a news reporter, I have an ethical obligation to share with you what I saw and documented.  I don’t see any public good in withholding these photos.  In fact, I think it would do us all good to see these pictures and have a public conversation in hopes of solution.

So, here are the pictures.  I snapped these when Mainstreet members took a tour this morning.  At this time, I don’t want to embarrass any property owner in particular. I actually don’t think you should be surprised at what lies behind the facade of the boardwalk.  It is historic — that implies there is going to be some termite damage and wood rot.  The fact is, we need to talk about the state of Pahoa’s boardwalk.  I can’t emphasize enough that it is historic and it must be preserved, bottom line.  But we cannot turn a blind eye to these conditions, and we cannot set up businesses and invite people inside for any food or drink or festivities when we have conditions like this.  This is just completely and totally unacceptable.

So, what do we do, Pahoa?  This is going to take a community effort to restore and preserve a vital part of Pahoa’s history, the boardwalk facade. Read more

Environment — Record Removal Of An Abandoned (And Stolen) Vehicle

Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Remember that I called in an abandoned vehicle this morning and learned that it was among three that was reported stolen in the last couple of days.  By the day’s end, the car was gone.  Being the aficionado of crime shows, I can only imagine it being hauled in and dusted for fingerprints.  Oh well, that was record timing for the removal of an abandoned vehicle!  Looking forward to the expose on the “chop shop,” and glad to be spared the blight of a dead car in the wilderness.